Just how good is the Chicago White Sox lineup when compared to the rest of the teams in baseball?
That question won't be answered until the season gets going but one writer doesn't see them as being in the top 10 to begin the year.
Based on current starting lineup projections, the writer chose only one team from the American League Central as being in the top 10 and it isn't the White Sox.
MLB.com writer Anthony Castrovince penned a piece in which he looked at each team's starting nine position players (using the designated hitter and no pitchers) and their likely batting order positions. Here are his top 10 rankings:
1. New York Mets
2. San Diego Padres
3. Houston Astros
4. Toronto Blue Jays
5. St. Louis Cardinals
6. Atlanta Braves
7. Los Angeles Dodgers
8. Philadelphia Phillies
9. New York Yankees
10. Cleveland Guardians
The Chicago White Sox were left out of his top-ten lineup ranking.
Certainly, one can debate the list, who's on it, and what position they should be in. But when looking at each of those rosters, it's hard to see who the White Sox would be better than as things stand right now.
Castrovince used the statistic of weighted runs created plus as his means of putting the teams in the order he did. The statistic takes into account a number of offensive factors including the league and ballpark a team plays in to gauge a team's overall offensive production.
According to fangraphs.com, the White Sox were tied with the Guardians and Baltimore Orioles for 16th in the majors last season with a wRC+ of 99.
The Dodgers led the majors with a mark of 119. Surprisingly, the Minnesota Twins were the highest AL Central team on the list as they were tied with the Seattle Mariners for eighth at 107.
The Guardians ranked where they did on Castrovince's list because of adding some power to the lineup in Josh Bell and Mike Zunino as well as their baserunning score of 13.2 which was fourth best in the majors by Fangraphs metrics. Conversely, the White Sox's baserunning score was -3, ranking 20th overall.
Back in 2021, the White Sox won the Central division and were a very good offensive team. That season, the White Sox were fourth overall in wRC+ at 108. Players counted on to provide offensive production did their jobs and the team went on to win 93 games.
Last season, a major drop-off in production occurred and the White Sox toiled to an 81-81 mark. A portion of that decline can be attributed to injuries that saw players like Tim Anderson, Luis Robert, and Eloy Jimenez miss a substantial number of games.
Another reason (and probably the biggest reason) was the team just underperformed and flat-out played poorly.
The White Sox lineup heading into the 2023 season is pretty good on paper. Anderson is a very good leadoff hitter and the addition of Benintendi into the number two slot could set the table up nicely for the likes of Jimenez, Andrew Vaughn, and Robert to drive in runs.
The hope is the players stay healthy and provide the offense needed to get the team back into championship contention. Vaughn's progress will be interesting to monitor since he will be moving over to first base and the team needs to find comparable production to that of Jose Abreu who left to sign with the Astros.
Based on the fact guys like Yasmani Grandal and Yoan Moncada need to have bounce back years, rookie Oscar Colas will be called upon to contribute in rightfield and the revolving door of players to man second base, the White Sox have their work cut out for them to get the offense back on track.
However, if they can get the bats going again, the White Sox could go from being the most disappointing team in baseball last year to being back in the playoff mix.